Following up on last week's look at "most wanted" Iowa Democrats, Jennifer Jacobs wrote a feature for today's Sunday Des Moines Register on "50 of Iowa's makers and shakers for the Republican presidential caucuses." Any comments about the list or GOP politics in general are welcome in this thread.
It seems like Jacobs couldn't decide whether she was making a list of the 50 most influential Iowa Republicans, or the people who will be most sought out by presidential candidates. A lot of names in the top ten will almost certainly not endorse any candidate before the Iowa caucuses (Governor Terry Branstad, Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann, Branstad's chief of staff Matt Hinch). For that reason, I expect some of the presidential campaigns to do far more courting of donors and activists who are lower down on Jacobs' list. Big money men (they are all men) who will be highly sought after include Kyle Krause, Pete Brownell, Bruce Rastetter, Gary Kirke, Jim Cownie, David Oman, and Robert Haus.
I was surprised Jacobs put David Kochel and Sara Craig Gongol so far down the list at numbers 36 and 39, respectively. Not only were they deeply involved in Romney's 2012 campaign in Iowa, millions of dollars passed through dark money groups those two ran during this year's U.S. Senate race. To my mind, they will be among the go-to Iowa Republicans for people who want to slime a less-preferred candidate before the caucuses, but don't want their fingerprints on the job. Kochel and Craig aren't shy about skating close to the edge when it comes to federal rules designed to ban coordination between campaigns and outside groups making independent media expenditures.
I was also surprised Jacobs left out talk radio host Steve Deace. Along with Sam Clovis and a few leaders of megachurches, he will be a loud voice in the Iowa GOP's social conservative wing, and I'm sure several presidential candidates will work hard to win his endorsement.
UPDATE: I thought it was strange that former Iowa House Speaker Chris Rants made Jacobs' list--he hasn't been speaker since 2006, and he retired from the legislature in 2010. James Lynch pointed out that it's even more odd for Rants to be there, given that Jacobs did not mention current Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen or Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix. Paulsen endorsed Newt Gingrich shortly before the 2012 caucuses. Dix did not endorse any of the contenders.
SECOND UPDATE: Shane Vander Hart commented n the Jacobs list at Caffeinated Thoughts. I largely agree with his take, especially this part:
Being an effective campaign staffer doesn't (necessarily) equal influence. [...] There are some people who are on this list who are great at the work that they do. Tim Albrecht is an effective communications/PR guy, Phil Valenziano, Grant Young, they are great, hardworking campaign staffers, but influencers? That can be debated and it depends on how you define influence and/or who the target of the influence is.
Vander Hart also pointed out that WHO radio host Jan Mickelson was left off the list, even though he has a large audience around the state: "Mickelson doesn't endorse, but he is a great conduit to grassroots Republicans and candidates need to shoot straight with him (ask Mitt Romney)."
I suspect Jacobs didn't put Steve Deace on the Republican list for the same reason Ed Fallon didn't make the Democrat list. Each makes noise but has little real influence with anybody of consequence and potentially can cause more problems than they're worth. As to preachers of "megachurches" having loud political voices, there's only one that really matters in central Iowa and he never, ever goes near partisan politics.
And with that, a sincere Happy Holidays to all my friends ontheleft, especially a certain desmoinesdem.
Deace has a radio show
that is broadcast every weekday to thousands of people on four Iowa radio affiliates. Almost by definition, that makes him more influential than most of the people on Jacobs' list. Certainly he has a broader reach on the GOP side than Ed Fallon does with liberals.
I'm a a huge Fallon detractor, but he clearly has a better handle on public policy than Steve Deace. Deace would be admired in this state if he stuck to sports. Fallon would be admired more if he had a show that focused strictly on gardening, and I'm serious.
Fallon and Deace
I can't believe I'm defending Ed Fallon, the most narcissistic man on earth. But he does have at least a working policy brain. And Deace is just - sigh.
but Deace is more influential
I believe he played a part in Clovis finishing second ahead of Mark Jacobs in the IA-Sen primary.
This moderate (R)
Has for years listened to Deace as a form of ironic entertainment. When Townshend's synth-ony from "Won't Get Fooled Again" plays and I hear his voice, especially at the end of segments, it truly sounds like it is something from an alternate reality.
Deace ran for something (county supervisor, elected official of Republican party) and lost. I am sure someone can name the office. I think that probably ruffled some local feathers. Plus, I listened to him during the McAuliffe-Cuccinelli VA governor's race and I was shocked at how quickly Deace turned on the "true" conservative Cuccinelli. Suddenly, there were issues with Cucc's campaign, his spokespeople, etc. I think it was just a way that Deace could attract ratings and also maintain that if a true conservative had run "the correct campaign," then the race would have been won.
I would advise my candidate that Deace would betray him/her as soon as it would give Deace a chance for higher ratings.
As for Clovis, I keep waiting to hear that his next bologna sandwich was his last. I have always admired his articulation and speaking ability, despite disagreeing with his policy, but he looks so unhealthy.
Clovis made the list
He was also nearly killed in the Air Force when the fighter he was flying nearly hit the ground. He was able to recover the craft at a very low altitude but it severely compressed his spine and did internal damage. Although he doesn't look like he plays volleyball with his wingmen anymore...he is in pretty good shape. He got around the state this cycle more than the governor or Joni Ernst and he was departing from the northwest corner Everytime. Not Des Moines.